Adults needing Council help to stay in their own homes still represent the biggest challenge facing Luton councillors as they put together the Council’s budget for the year starting in April 2007.
“We have increased the Council’s spend on social care every year since the Liberal Democrats took over at the Town Hall in 2003” says Liberal Democrat leader of the Council David Franks. “We are now spending £11.6M a year more on social care than Labour did before we took over and are expecting to have to find another £1.4 to increase this budget again for 2007-08. This has involved switching huge resources into social care.”
“We want to look after our most vulnerable citizens but this extra expenditure has to be found in the face of year on year government grant reductions. In the provisional grant settlement the government has announced a £3.5M increase in Luton’s grant but have reduced specific grants by £3.8M and loaded extra responsibilities on the Council which will cost £9.9M. All of this makes it more difficult than it should be to keep up with rising numbers of vulnerable adults needing help and rising costs because they have ever more complex needs.”
“We have managed this massive re-focusing of the budget without huge Council Tax increases. The average increase in the last three years of the Labour administration was 9% whilst the average for the three years the Liberal Democrats have run the Council has been 4.7%. This is more than we would like, but in the face of constant cuts in government grants we are pleased to have been able to keep it so low. Compare the levels of Council Tax in Luton with those of neighbouring areas all of which are Tory controlled.”